Pace of house-price declines slows

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Housing prices continued to track downwards in February, but the pace of decline eased slightly over the month compared to the previous two months, according to a recent report by CoreLogic.

"The national rate of decline eased relative to January and December when dwelling values were down by around 1%. However, the February results remain overall weak, with the geographic scope of negative conditions broadening," CoreLogic Head of Research Tim Lawless said.

A 0.7% decline in national dwelling values was recorded over the month, taking the cumulative drop to -6.8% since values peaked in October 2017.

Home values across the nation are back to levels last seen in September 2016 and have fallen over 14 of the past 16 months.

Notably, though, national home prices are still 18% higher than they were five years ago. This suggests that most homeowners are still in a strong equity position.

The report also revealed that Hobart (+1.1%) was the only capital city to log rise in values over the past three months. Canberra values were unchanged, while the rest of the capital cities recorded lower values over the quarter.

Only three of Australia’s eight capitals registered an increase in values over the past 12 months. The rise was headlined by Hobart, whose values were up by 7.2%. Brisbane (-0.5%) showed a negative annual change for the first time since 2012. Sydney’s housing market, meanwhile, moved into double-digit annual declines for the first time since the early 1980s.

CoreLogic's estimates of national settled sales activity were down 12.8% year-on-year, with sharper falls recorded in Sydney (-20.6%) and Melbourne (-22.1%).

“The February housing market results marked a subtle improvement in the rate of decline. However, the housing market downturn is now more widespread geographically and we aren’t seeing any indicators pointing to the market bottoming out just yet,” Lawless said.

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